Spring Arts Celebration Begins with Fun-Filled Weekend

by Liz Casey '14
Foodtrucks
Students, faculty, and staff line up at one of the many food trucks on campus for the First Friday celebration.

Despite the best efforts of Mother Nature, Swarthmore's newly-expanded Spring Arts Celebration began over the weekend, illustrating that the arts are alive and thriving at the College. 

For the first time, Swarthmore's annual celebration of the arts included an entire month of exhibits, performances, and artistry. Spring Arts officially kicked off Friday evening with a "First Friday" celebration and party. The chance of rain moved the festivities indoors, but the venue didn't dampen the participants' and spectators' spirits. Attendees enjoyed a street-style bonanza in Beardsley Hall, featuring the artistic stylings of student-led groups including Oasis, Verti-go-go, Terpsichore, and the Mariachi Band, with an array of food trucks stationed outside.

Beardsley also served as a gallery, with guests invited to roam its workshops and studios to have a first-hand look at the impressive art and research students have worked on throughout the semester. Guests moved between the junior and senior workshop studios and viewed videos presenting the work of art history students. Meanwhile, Swarthmore's very own Battle of the Bands raged on in Upper Tarble, truly rounding out and bringing recognition to the different genres and facets of the arts here at the College.

It is this full experience that Coordinator of Student Activities Mike Elias, Events Manager Darin Pfeifer, and other organizers hoped to achieve in extending the celebration. Swarthmore's first Arts Weekend was held in April 2011, with the goal of displaying a large variety of artistic talent on campus and sharing that talent with the community. Due to time and space restrictions, however, the weekend structure proved rather limiting for both artists and guests. The shift from an arts weekend to an arts month was only natural. 

"We also wanted the opportunity to showcase arts programs without creating burdensome timelines for faculty and students to complete works by a dedicated weekend," Pfeiffer says. "By allowing programs to be featured throughout the month, we can better accommodate student and faculty groups as they finish their works organically, with great respect for class and exam schedules." 

The opening weekend continued with a Saturday evening talk and performance by Sarah Kay, a renowned spoken word poet and the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E., a group dedicated to using spoken word as an educational and inspirational tool. Immediately following Kay's performance, Swarthmore's own wind ensemble, directed by Andrew Hauze '04, delighted its audience with works by Dvorak, Gershwin, Sousa, and the premiere of Scherzo by Associate professor of Music and composer Thomas Whitman '82. The first weekend concluded with a riveting Tamagawa Taiko Drum and Dance performance. In their return to Philadelphia, the group amazed a packed Lang Concert Hall with their energetic displays and showcased the significant relationship between the College and Tamagawa University in Japan.  

The remainder of the Spring Arts Celebration will further express the vibrant and thriving arts culture at Swarthmore, including a lecture and reading by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, a campus architecture tour by Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History Thomas Morton entitled "Experiencing Dynamic Architecture," a performance by Rhythm n Motion, and the Gamelan Semera Santi Concert. Check out the complete schedule